Motorcycles - UK - December 2013
“The motorcycle and scooter market faces a number of challenges as the sector recovers from the recent effects of recession. Sales remain depressed and with rising low-cost imports, the existing players could well be in for a difficult period. Focusing on the large percentage of potential owners is vital in conveying the benefits that two wheels offer over four.”
– Neil Mason, Head of Retail Research
Some questions answered in this report include:
- How can sales be stimulated?
- What future for scooters?
- Overcoming the threat of low-cost imports?
- Can UK manufacturing bounce back?
- Marketing with a reduced on-the-ground presence?
The UK market for motorcycles and scooters has recently passed through a difficult period with both unit sales and the value of new motorcycles and scooters sold in the market suffering annual declines for some years. Although there is evidence from our research that the market may be about to turn the corner as it benefits from the wider improvements in the UK economy, it is still too early to say that a fully fledged recovery for motorcycle and scooter sales is on the way.
Current trends within the market focus on a shift in interest towards lower-powered machines and especially those in the 125cc sector. In part this is a reflection of recent changes in the licensing of motorcycles which allows bikes up to 125cc to be ridden with L plates for two years once CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) has been achieved. Yet it is not all about 125cc machines. Premium branded and the most powerful, 1000cc+, machines are also benefiting from an improvement in sales indicative of trading up by many existing owners.
Looking ahead, Mintel remains positive about the fortunes for the sector. While new sales are likely to remain subdued, there are signs that a growing number of the general public are aware that two wheelers offer an affordable and attractive alternative to cars for personal transport. Actions by manufacturers on pricing and performance are clearly offering a platform from which the market can recover especially with potential drivers for the future such as an improving economy and growing congestion.
The various types of motorcycles referred to in this report are based on the definitions used by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) and they are as follows:
- Adventure Sport (including Supermoto) These bikes are similar in style to Trail/Enduro motorcycles but are predominantly designed and capable for on-road use only. Often they will have features similar to machines included in the Touring category eg fairings, luggage carrying capacity etc.
- Custom These machines include ‘cruisers’ and ‘choppers’. They typically feature high handlebars, low seat height and forward footrests. Body panels and fittings contain high polished chrome content.
- Naked Machines are built to a basic specification with no fairing (or only a small handlebar fairing) and an upright riding position – sometimes also referred to as Retro or Traditional.
- Sport/Touring Machines that fit between the Supersport and Touring bikes categories. Typical features include full or partial fairings and practical rider and pillion seating with low to medium ride handlebars. Tend to have medium- to large-capacity engines.
- Supersport These machines are designed to mimic or directly replicate racing bikes. They normally have full fairings and low handlebars and are sometimes referred to as race replicas.
- Scooters Have an engine as an integral part of the rear suspension, or the chassis is a step-through type, irrespective of cc or wheel size. Includes all types of transmission.
- Touring Bikes generally have large engines and are designed for long-distance riding. Typical features include a more comfortable seating position for rider and pillion, luggage-carrying capability and weather protection, such as fairings with a fixed or adjustable windscreen.
- Trail/Enduro These bikes encompass trial, Enduro and trail bikes with an off-road or cross-country capability. These motorcycles are predominantly used off-road but do have an on-road use and are therefore included in this report.
- Mopeds In law, a motorised two-wheeled vehicle with an engine capacity of less than 50cc and a maximum speed capability of 30mph, riders must be aged 16 years or over. Mopeds are available in motorcycle and scooter styles.
- Motorcycle In law, a motorised two-wheeled vehicle that is not a moped, riders must be aged 17 years or over.
- Powered Two Wheeler All types of two-wheeled motor vehicle, including mopeds, motorcycles and scooters.
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